Surprises happen — for better or for worse. We weren’t exactly thrilled that Hurricane Matthew popped up unexpectedly and swept through the southeast during the first international Indie Author Day. After all, it forced several libraries, including our own local library in Charleston, South Carolina, to have to reschedule their events.
But this month brought a much pleasanter surprise when we learned that Baltimore-based indie author L. Penelope, who is featured at the rescheduled Indie Author Day event at Charleston County Public Library (CCPL), signed a contract with St. Martin’s Press. Punctuated by awards and frequent engagement with the literary community, Penelope’s path to literary success is a refreshing story of how indie publishing and traditional publishing can work together in ways that are good for the industry and readers.
Shortly after she submitted her novel Song of Blood and Stone: The Earthsinger Chronicles, Volume One, to the library-oriented ebook discovery platform SELF-e in April 2015, her book was chosen by Library Journal as a SELF-e Selection, distinguishing it as being of high quality and making it available to library patrons nationally. Later that year, she entered her book to the Self-Publishing Ebook Award contest hosted by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), a sister award to the well-respected BCALA Literary Award that honors the best self-published adult fiction and poetry from African American authors. In February 2016, she was announced as the winner.
In addition to regular participation at local and national literary events, she was also one of four panelists during the Indie Author Day’s internationally-aired webcast, which was streamed into over 100 libraries and had thousands of viewers.
Now, just a month after her appearance at the first Indie Author Day and less than a year after winning the first BCALA Self-Publishing Ebook Award, Penelope has signed her first contract with a traditional publisher. That librarians, a leading library publication and a major publisher could all agree on the merit and marketability of an indie published book is not surprising, but very rarely has a confluence like this been so clear. Congratulations on L. Penelope’s achievements! Here’s to success for the indie author community!